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The Casey Report: Putting your mouth, not brain, in charge

Evidence-based policy thoroughly decked

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There is, too, the continued undermining of our legal protections. The report persists in juxtaposing the rights of criminals vs. those of the law-abiding. In so doing, it neatly overlooks the fact that protections such as jury trial and habeas corpus exist first and foremost to protect the innocent.

Second, there is a real whiff of Captain Renault here. He – as those who know their filmography will recall – was the police chief in Casablanca. Needing an excuse to close down Rick’s bar, he exclaims “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”, before turning round to pick up his winnings.

It would be very nice to return to credible independent statistics – for all the notice the public will take of them. But it should not be forgotten that it was the present government that neutered the Office of National Statistics – thereby reducing the credibility of what had previously been a gold-star statistical service.

Ditto paperwork and management targets. They are disliked by police and public alike, but they did not just happen. This government played a very large part in creating them and the culture in which they survive.

Finally, the report also points out that the public is worried by “disrespect, disorder and anti-social behaviour”. This therefore makes it all the more peculiar that such a report should have been entrusted to the doyenne of civil service yobbery, Louise Casey.

She is usually referred to as someone who likes to get results. She is assertive – and that assertiveness has been known to express itself in thuggish form. Back in 2005, Tony Blair intervened to save her from a disciplinary inquiry. This was after she allegedly made a foul-mouthed speech ridiculing government initiatives on binge-drinking.

Her attitude to research and evidence is neatly summed up by her much-quoted declaration that “If No. 10 says bloody 'evidence-based policy' to me one more time I'll deck them”. Quite apart from the implied threat, it is not a healthy attitude to be held by someone trusted with a major item of government research.

But then, as Ms Casey admits: “Doing things sober is no way to get things done”.

This could explain a great deal. ®

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